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Flameseeker Chronicles: Walk on the wild side

Rubi Bayer, @@rubi_

I have a confession to make: I'm burned out on Guild Wars. That's not the fault of Guild Wars at all -- I'm finding a general feeling of burnout with all themepark MMOs in general. I discussed it at length with Shawn and Beau on last week's Massively Speaking, but the short version is that I find myself logging into my core MMOs (Guild Wars, Dungeons and Dragons Online, and RIFT), saying some version of "Meh," and logging out again.

After a couple weeks of this, it finally occurred to me to take my own darn advice: Try something new and different. With my typical all-or-nothing approach, I'm jumping in with both feet. So what is my new venture? Most of you can probably guess, but follow along after the jump for the skinny on my latest project.


Yep, I'm venturing into the PvP arena. I have to laugh at the image of sending my pampered PvE princess into the ring with her Asura armor, Chaos Gloves, and Tormented weapons. She'll get torn apart, so I'll probably tone it down a bit. If I had a free slot I'd simply roll a PvP character, but as it is I'll have to work with my PvE characters.

I'm going to try it for two months in order to give the PvP side of things a fair shake and give myself plenty of time to learn. I'll document my progress each week in Flameseeker Chronicles as well, so you guys can cheer for me or my opponents, however you prefer.


This week has primarily been study and preparation. I've already decided I'll stick with the caster classes I know and love: Ele, Necro, and Mesmer. I'm avoiding melee for the time being; melee plus PvP is a pretty giant leap out of my comfort zone, and trying to learn both at once sounds like the opposite of fun. I might get all crazy and use my ranger at some point in JQ. I've got a few guildies who tell me Rangers can be played very effectively there.

PvX seems like a good place to pick up some basic meta builds to learn with -- I'll likely take them into RA at the beginning to get a feel for them. For the first time, gear is a concern, which is sort of an odd feeling for Guild Wars, but I'm gathering the weapon sets I need. An advantage to being a PvP newbie in a six-year-old game is that weapon mods are plentiful, so I'm not worried about gathering a good range of sets as I progress. For the time being, I'm starting with the basics: a 40/40 set. Thankfully those can be purchased completely modded from Gertrud in Vasburg Armory. Telamon in Leviathan Pits has them too, but he kept saying something about "Dirty Kurzick" and wouldn't sell me anything. Hmph.

Armed with my shiny new weapon sets (one air set and one fire set), I headed boldly to... the forums. I'm in a heavily PvE-focused guild and alliance, but my guild does have a handful of experienced PvP players, and I wanted their advice.

More than one person told me some variant of "keep local off" and "ignore the jerks." Those suggestions simultaneously made me feel a little better and made me more apprehensive, because they express the core of why I've always avoided PvP. As a very social player, I love playing with people. With them, not against them. I love going out with a group of friends and demolishing enemy mobs. It feels awkward to me when the enemy mobs are my fellow players. It feels even more awkward when they fight back verbally as well as physically by cursing and offering graphic suggestions as to what lewd acts I can perform on them after the match is over. (True story from my first trip into RA a few years ago.)

That's going to be my biggest PvP hurdle. I don't mind losing -- I don't even mind losing by an embarrassing amount. If I'm killed four times in three minutes and shut down every second I'm on my feet, I'm OK with that. I'll figure out what went wrong and learn how to compensate. I see that as part of the experience. Rage and trash talk from players when I'm used to them being allies are a different story. Beyond "keep the chat channels off," I did get some great suggestions regarding builds to begin with, weapon sets to acquire as I progress, and what areas to start with.

Into the ring

I'm skipping AB entirely for several reasons. I've done a fair amount of AB with guildies, and the strategy isn't really what I consider "real PvP." Our AB runs consisted of racing frantically from shrine to shrine, killing off the NPCs, and running to the next one. There was the occasional tangle with an opposing group if we couldn't avoid its members, but we fought the AI more than anything. In addition to that, AB wait times on the Kurzick side are downright painful. I swear, I could hit the enter button, go out for a nice meal with my family, and still make it back in time for the match.

JQ and FA are similar setups, but they seem to be more PvP-heavy, so they'll be step two. Random Arenas are step one. They're fairly brief -- I've never been in one that lasted until the timer ran all the way down. These battles are also the perfect tool for teaching you to think on your feet in a relatively forgiving learning environment. Since random groupings are the name of the game, nobody expects a hardcore, organized, balanced group. You get what you get, run out there, and do the best you can with what you have to work with.

I went through about 10 RA battles in this first phase of PvP and learned quite a bit even in that short time. Dealing with PvE enemy AI is second nature to me -- not because I'm just so 1337, but because if you do anything repeatedly for long enough you'll get a good feel for it. Human AI -- duh -- is completely different.

As a PvE caster, I know my role. "Stay out of the way and deal a ton of damage. Carry a rez, know when to run like a little girl. The frontliners will deal with the up-close combat." In PvP, that does not seem to work. The frontliners might set up to handle the up-close combat, but at some point very early in the battle, at least in RA, all of the enemies will decide, "See that one in the back? She's the one that keeps blinding you. Get her."

So far, my response to that has been running wildly in circles while trying to fling Blinding Surge and Enfeeble over my shoulder. For the first time, I think I truly appreciate the ability to cast while moving in Guild Wars 2. As it stands now, if I stop running in circles and attempt to cast, a Dervish will fling me to the ground and cut my head off. It's a definite pattern.

In my 10 RA battles, my team won two. In the other eight my team was completely free of anything even remotely resembling a healing class, and while Aura of Restoration is fine and all that, it kind of sucks as my only heal.

Knowing is half the battle

So what did I learn this week? Not much. Well, let me rephrase. I learned a lot, in theory. I bought gear, did some homework, and took a baby step into the PvP side of the game. This week was mostly about preparation and a little bit about putting what I learned into action. I've got a better sense of how this is different from PvE play and have started finding out what I need to do and learn to change my current playstyle.

So what happens next week? I'll be doing a lot more RA, then I'll venture into JQ/FA to see how I fare in a slightly more organized setting. Don't worry -- Flameseeker Chronicles will still feature all the latest in GW/GW2 news, but I'll devote a portion of the column every week to my continuing PvP adventures. Wish me luck, and I'll see you next week!

P.S.: The other half is red and blue lasers.

Rubi is a longtime Guild Wars player and the writer of Flameseeker Chronicles here at Massively. The column keeps a close eye on all the events in Guild Wars, Guild Wars 2, and anything bridging the two. It's also the home of a weekly summary of the travels of [MVOP], Massively's Guild Wars guild. Email Rubi at

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